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NHRC calls for reports on children living in prisons

Graphic: Bottom of prison cell door

The call to all states and Union territories followed a media report of 46 children living in Odisha prisons with their mothers.

The National Human Rights Commission has sent notices to all states and Union territories seeking details of children held in prison with their mothers, following a media report of 46 children living in Odisha prisons without proper facilities.

According to the media report, the children were aged between one month and six years. Nine of the mothers had been convicted while 36 were undertrial prisoners.

In a statement, the Commission noted that "the children, lodged in the jails with their mothers, are neither convicts nor under trials and they are entitled to food, shelter, medical care, clothing, education and recreational facilities but nothing is being provided to them despite the Supreme Court guidelines".

While the media report focused on prisons in Odisha, the Commission noted it was possible that children may be living in prisons in other states or Union territories.

"Accordingly, the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Prisons of all the States and UT's calling for reports along with statistics showing how many children are being kept with their mothers in the jails under their jurisdiction without ensuring facilities, necessary for psychological and physical growth as well as educational upbringing," the Commission said.

The Commission has called for a response from all states and Union territories within six weeks.

"The Apex Court has formulated guidelines that the cases of women prisoners with children, should be disposed of expeditiously but the reality is different. There are many inmates who have been granted bail by the competent Court but they cannot be freed as they are unable to furnish the sureties," the Commission said.

"The guidelines also ensure that the children below three years shall be allowed in crèche and those between 2-3 years, should be looked after in a nursery, run by the prisons authorities, outside the prison premises and that small children should not be kept in sub-jails, unless facilities are ensured for their biological, psychological and social growth."

Date: 21 May 2018

Source: National Human Rights Commission of India

Image credits

  1. Bottom of prison cell door - APF